On the Sunday closest to January 25, the Church commemorates the Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, remembering all those Orthodox Christians who suffered for Christ at the hands of the godless Soviets during the years of persecution. These include the royal Passion Bearers…
Saint Xenia of Rome, in the world Eusebia, was the only daughter of an eminent Roman senator. From her youth she loved God, and wished to avoid the marriage arranged for her. She secretly left her parental home with two servants devoted to her, and set sail upon a ship. Through the Providence of…
Saint Gerasimus, Bishop of Great Perm and Ust’Vymsk, was the third bishop of the newly-enlightened Zyryani people, and he was a worthy successor to Saint Stephen, the Enlightener of Perm (April 26). He was elevated to the See of Perm sometime after 1416, and participated in many Church…
The Martyr John of Kazan suffered for Christ in the city of Kazan on January 24, 1529. During the reign of Great Prince Basil the Tatars swooped down upon Nizhni Novgorod. Many of the inhabitants were taken into captivity and brought to Kazan. Also among their number was the fearless John. When…
The Holy Martyrs Babylas of Sicily and his two disciples Timothy and Agapius lived during the third century on the outskirts of Rome. Saint Babylas was born in the city of Reupolium into a rich family, and he was raised by his parents in the Christian Faith. While still in his youth he abandoned…
Saint Macedonius, a Syrian hermit, lived during the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth. When he first embarked upon the path of asceticism, he led the life of a wanderer, roaming through the cities of Phoenicia, Cilicia, and Syria. Afterward, he spent forty-five years in the…
The uncovering of the relics of Saint Anastasios of Persia (January 22) took place in 638, ten years after his martyrdom. There are three traditions regarding his relics. According to the first, which is also accepted by the English historian Saint Bede (May 27), the relics were transferred to…
Saint Dionysius of Olympus was born into a family of poor parents in the village of Platina. When he was an infant, the Cross shone over his crib. Fond of prayer and reading spiritual books from his youth, Saint Dionysius decided to become a monk after the death of his parents. With this aim he…
Saint Philotheus, the founder of the Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos, lived toward the end of the tenth century.
Saint Xenia lived during the eighteenth century, but little is known of her life or of her family. She passed most of her life in Petersburg during the reigns of the empresses Elizabeth and Catherine II. Xenia Grigorievna Petrova was the wife of an army officer, Major Andrew Petrov. After the…
The Holy Martyrs and brothers according to the flesh Pausirius, Paul, and Theodotion lived in Egypt during the third century. Pausirius and Paul confessed their faith in Christ and suffered martyrdom under Diocletian (284-305). Theodotion converted to Christianity after witnessing their martyrdom.…
Saint Philon, Bishop of Kolpasteia (Crete) He died peacefully in the fifth century. He wrote a commentary on the Pentateuch, and on the Song of Songs.
The Hieromartyr Philippicus the Presbyter and the Martyr Barsimos and two brothers were beheaded for their confession of faith in Christ.
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1. THE VENERABLE FEMALE XENIA [KSENIA]
Xenia was born in Rome, the only daughter of a prominent senator. Drawn by love for Christ, she refused to enter into marriage as her parents wished, but rather, to avoid this, she secretly fled from her home with two of her slaves and arrived at the Island of Cos to a place called Mylassa. There she founded a convent for virgins where she lived an ascetical life until her death. Even though she was a frail woman, she possessed a steadfast endurance in fasting, prayer and all-night vigils. She often stood all night in prayer; she was dressed more poorly than all the other sisters; and the bread which she ate, she often sprinkled with ashes from the censer [thurible]. At the time of her death (450 A.D.), a wonderful sign appeared over the virgin's convent: a wreath of stars with a cross in the center, brighter than the sun. Many, who were sick, received healing from her relics. Her female slaves [tonsured nuns] continued in the example of their abbess and when they died, and according to their wishes, were buried at the feet of Blessed Xenia [Ksenia].
2. THE HOLY-PRIEST MARTYR BABYLAS
Babylas was a priest in Sicily. He suffered for Christ with two of his disciples in the third century.
3. THE VENERABLE MACEDONIUS
Macedonius was a Syrian hermit. Only in his old age did he feed on baked bread, but before that he ate only grains of barley softened with water. He ended his earthy life in the year 418 A.D.
4. VENERABLE PHILON, BISHOP OF CYPRUS
When St. Epiphanius was summoned to Rome to assist the sister of the Emperor Honorius by his prayer, he consecrated Philon a bishop. Philon exegeted the Pentateuch and the Song of Songs. He died peacefully in the fifth century.
5. THE VENERABLE DIONYSIUS OF OLYMPUS
Dionysius was a miracle-worker. He lived an ascetical life on Mt. Olympus. He was tonsured a monk on Mt. Athos [The Holy Mountain] where he was the abbot of the Monastery Philotheou. Toward the end of his life, he withdrew into solitude on Mt. Olympus where he died in the sixteenth century.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT XENIA [KSENIA]
The virgin Xenia, as well as Agnes
Or the all-glorious Thecla or Anastasia,
Did not want to be tied to a physical man
But found a Bridegroom in the Immortal Christ.
With all her soul, she loved His beauty
And mercy and tenderness and radiant purity.
And even the senator's house and wealth, she left
When the Sun of Righteousness shown in her soul.
Soul! Soul ! Soul! is the true bride;
And the body is miserable like the transient grass.
And the bride [her soul] Xenia began to adorn
And by many prayers to wash and nourish it
That the bride [her soul], to be a heavenly apparition,
Pleasant and worthy of the Heavenly Bridegroom.
The labors of Holy Xenia were pleasing to the Bridegroom,
And many wondrous gifts, upon her, He bestowed.
When her pure soul, the flesh, overcame,
Peaceful as a king over a vanquished city,
With the wreath of immortality, the Lord crowned her,
Into the mansion of eternal joy, led her.
There, where the angels hymn the Creator in song,
There, the Lord receives His bride.
In our day, you usually hear these words from parents: "We want to secure the life of our child." That is why they work very hard to amass wealth, often unjustly, to educate their child in the calling [vocation] which brings the greatest physical security and material benefit. This is done by so-called Christians! They do this because their concept of a real life and the real security of life is erroneous. See, how a true Christian mother prepares her son for a real life. At the time of her death, Blessed Euphrosyne spoke to her son Clement of Ancyra: "Do me the honor, O my son, and bravely stand up for Christ and confess Him strongly and without hesitation! I hope, in my heart, that the crown of martyrdom will blossom on you in my honor and for the salvation of many. Do not be afraid of threats, nor swords, nor pains, nor wounds, nor fire. Let nothing separate you from Christ, but look up to heaven and from there await your great, eternal and rich reward from God. Fear God's majesty; be afraid of His awesome judgment, tremble at His all-seeing Eye, for all those who deny Him will receive the punishment of unquenchable fire and eternally vigilant worm. Let this be my reward from you, my sweet son, for my pain in child-bearing and effort surrounding your education that I may be called a mother of a martyr. The blood that you received from me, do not spare but shed it that, from that, I can also receive honor. Submit your body to torture that I, too, may rejoice at that before our Lord as though I myself had suffered for Him."
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as Teacher:
1. As a Teacher Who teaches how man should think in order to be saved;
2. As a Teacher Who teaches how man should talk in order to be saved;
3. As a Teacher Who teaches how a man should act in order to be saved.
About the most all-discerning Prophet [Jesus]
"Why do you harbor evil thoughts in your hearts" (St. Matthew 9:4).
When our Lord deigned to direct a rebuke to the Pharisees and Scribes, at that time, they had not killed anyone, nor had they deceived anyone, nor had they looted anyone and, not only that, at that time, they had not even offended anyone by their words. Why then, did our Lord admonish them when they had not committed any sin neither in works nor in words? Why? Because, at that time, their thoughts were evil.
An evil thought is sin! That is the great news which Christ brought into the world. In truth, an evil thought is the sinful source of all sin because, before a man says something or does something sinful, he thinks sinfully. Thought is the causative sin. All other sins are only subsequent sins. Whoever wishes to annihilate those evil actions must uproot those evil thoughts first. Whoever desires to stem the flow of water must first dry up the source. Therefore, let no one justify himself: I am not a sinner, for I have not killed anyone nor looted from anyone nor profaned anyone nor lied to anyone! Behold, we are full of deadly looting, profaning and deceiving thoughts! If we have not committed sin by our own deeds, that is simply a matter of the mercy of God and external circumstances. But, if God had yielded and if the circumstances were favorable, we would have committed all those sins that we had thought. The serpent is not only venomous when it bites but also when it does not bite, because it carries the venom in itself.
Therefore, not only is thought a sin, but also it is the source of sin: the beginning of sin and the seed and root of sin. That is why the All-seeing and All-knowing Lord rebuked those who had evil thoughts. "Why do you harbor evil thoughts in your hearts."
O Lord, All-seeing and All-knowing, help us to cleanse our hearts and minds from evil thoughts so that our words and deeds may be pure.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.